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Mini-profile balloon dilatation catheter, Ireland, 1989

Mini-profile balloon dilatation catheters are used during heart surgery called transluminal coronary angioplasty. This stretches restricted blood vessels that deliver blood to the heart. Such restriction can cause a lack of oxygen-rich blood getting to the heart. This causes chest pain, known as angina and severe cases may require surgery. The dilatation catheter is extremely small and flexible. It is passed through an artery in either the wrist or groin into the main artery of the body (the aorta) to reach the narrowed vessel. A special balloon is then inflated with air to stretch the blood vessel. Before the catheter is removed, contrast dye is inserted into the catheter and an X-ray video taken. This ensures blood is flowing though the newly inflated vessel. The balloon is then deflated and the catheter removed. Transluminal coronary angioplasty was first performed in 1977. It has become one of the most common non-surgical cardiac treatments in this country. This example was made by C. R. Bard Ireland Ltd.

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    Techniques and Technologies:


    Glossary: catheter

    A flexible tube, narrow enough to be inserted into the body, where it is used for withdrawing fluids. Most typically used for extracting urine from the bladder.

    Glossary: cardiology

    The study of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels.

    Glossary: surgery

    trial term S&H